For couples trying to conceive after having their first baby without fertility issues,, secondary infertility can be surprising. While the causes and the treatment are similar to primary infertility, secondary infertility can often be a more challenging problem to overcome, especially if factors like age and the health of the partners are in question.
Secondary infertility refers to the fact that the couple is unable to have a second or third child after having at least one pregnancy without help. Consensus in the medical community says that a case may be classified as secondary infertility only if the first child was not a result of fertility treatments such as In-vitro fertilization(IVF) or Intrauterine insemination (IUI). Diagnosis for secondary infertility is made only when the partners have tried to conceive again for a year and have failed, or in the case of couples above 35 years of age, six months. Research shows that approximately 12% of all couples trying to conceive experience secondary infertility.
Do you think you may have secondary infertility? This blog will discuss secondary infertility including the known causes and how Dreams Fertility can help you conceive again and expand your family.
What Causes Secondary Infertility?
Fertility in human beings changes over time. It’s often found that a couple who were able to naturally conceive the first time and have a perfectly healthy pregnancy can still struggle when they try to conceive for a second time. This may be due to changes in the fertility of either partner or both partners. There are several underlying causes that can lead to this.
Studies show that fertility in either partner can lead to secondary infertility in almost 70% of cases. In the remaining cases, it could be due to issues with both partners or other unknown causes. Some of the common causes of secondary infertility include:
Age and Lifestyle
Age and lifestyle play an important role in both male and female fertility. It is estimated that fertility in women peaks around the age of 35 and then decreases. Given that there are just a finite number of eggs that ovaries can produce, the quality of eggs tends to diminish as women age. In the case of men, the quality of sperm and semen reduces after the age of 40 and even earlier depending on various factors.
Lifestyle problems are also quite a common factor in male and female infertility. Smoking, excessive alcohol use, and drug use could lead to complications in fertility. Weight gain is also a risk factor that can interfere with hormone production in the body and adversely impact fertility in both men and women.
Low Sperm Count and Sperm Abnormalities
Low sperm count in men could be one of the reasons for secondary infertility ( (and primary fertility issues, too). Sperm count issues could result from low testosterone levels, blocked ducts, or other problems stemming from medication or infections.
Abnormal sperm could also lead to infertility where the shape or movement of the sperm is not normal. This can prevent insemination. Varicocele is another common condition where the veins in the testicles are enlarged causing issues with sperm count and shape.
Ovulation-related issues are quite common and can lead to secondary infertility if not recognized and treated effectively. . Women with issues such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), primary ovarian insufficiency (POI), and other hormonal disorders can face problems with regular menstrual cycles and healthy ovulation. Hormonal imbalance also interferes with the production of healthy eggs and implantation. Women with such issues will, in most cases, have trouble conceiving or maintaining a pregnancy.
Issues in the Uterus
Problems in the uterus that could be structural can also lead to secondary infertility. Some of the common causes include fibroids, polyps and cysts in the uterus, blockage in the fallopian tubes, and endometriosis.
The first pregnancy can also lead to complications in the second pregnancy. If you had a C-section for the first pregnancy, it could cause the formation of scar tissue in the uterine walls or could be the cause of endometriosis. There are also problems such as having hostile cervical mucus, which plays an important part in conception.
Infections and Other Diseases
Infections could cause blockages in fallopian tubes. This prevents the sperm from reaching the egg, and it could be one of the causes of infertility. Infections such as gonorrhea and chlamydia cause pelvic inflammatory disease, which may result in scarring or blockage in the fallopian tubes.
Autoimmune diseases are also known to lead to primary and secondary infertility. Autoimmune diseases could lead to the production of anti-sperm antibodies and could also cause inflammation in the uterus.
Prostate enlargement or removal is a potential cause of male infertility. An enlarged prostate reduces sperm production and sperm count and interferes with normal ejaculation.
How Do You Treat Secondary Infertility?
There are several treatments for secondary infertility available today, thanks to advancements in reproductive technology. The first step is, of course, a proper diagnosis of the problem. Here’s where fertility specialists at Dream fertility can help you. We have experience dealing with hundreds of infertility cases, and our team has helped many of these infertile couples achieve successful pregnancies.
To pinpoint the cause of infertility, tests are important. Semen analysis for men helps us understand if there are any issues with sperm production or behavior. For women, hormone panels and ovulation tests along with X-rays and transvaginal ultrasound will help in diagnosing issues behind infertility. Depending on the cause, there are several treatment options available.
Medication and Supplements
Most issues related to ovulation and hormonal dysfunction can be fixed through medication. Medicines such as Clomid can regulate ovulation in women and help in achieving normal insemination. Infections and issues such as PCOS can also be treated with medication and this could be enough in most cases to treat secondary infertility. Medicines and supplements also help men with enhancing sperm production and increasing sperm quality.
Medicines alone cannot fix the problem in some cases and surgical intervention may be required. Fertility experts and gynecologists routinely perform uterine surgeries in women to remove scar tissue fibroids, cysts, and polyps that can affect fertility. Removing these can help prepare the uterus for pregnancy and can also fix other underlying issues. Surgeries are also needed for men in case of problems such as testicular varicocele. Most of these surgical procedures are laparoscopically done, so they are not invasive procedures.
Finally, there are other options available that help infertile couples achieve pregnancy. Dreams fertility are experts in these advanced reproductive technologies such as IUI and IVF. Intra-uterine Insemination or IUI is usually the first process where semen is produced, washed and placed into the uterus during ovulation cycles to increase the chances of pregnancy. For some patients, IUI is enough to conceive a pregnancy.
IVF is a more advanced treatment where multiple eggs are retrieved and fertilized with sperm by a process called ICSI, outside the women’s body in a lab and then placed into the uterus.
Both IUI and IVF have a high success rate and have led to many pregnancies in the case of secondary infertility. A fertility specialist at Dreams fertility can help you with these procedures.
Secondary infertility is a very common issue facing couples in the US and globally. Having a big family is a dream for many parents and secondary infertility can cause stress and worry.
Through proper diagnosis and fertility specialist care, secondary infertility can be treated, and you can have a healthy pregnancy. . The key is understanding the root causes.
Finding the right fertility expert is key in diagnosing and treating secondary infertility. You need the best care, and of course, you also need guidance and support, every step of the way. Dreams Fertility has been at the forefront of reproductive medicine. If you think you’re experiencing secondary infertility, we can help.
Dr. Luis Murrain joined Dreams Fertility in 2021, providing specialty services in Fertility and Reproductive Genetics. With a shared vision that everyone deserves to have the family of their dreams, we are dedicated to helping all of our patients. We believe that families come in all shapes and sizes, and all of them are beautiful. We are proud to have a long history of providing services to all, including gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals and couples on their road to parenthood.